MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County will have a new Sheriff beginning in 2019. Republican Challenger James Quattrone defeated Democratic Incumbent Joseph Gerace on Tuesday, marking an end to Gerace’s 25-year reign as sheriff.
Quattrone received an unofficial total of 22,114 votes (53.6 percent) on election night, more than enough to defeat Gerace, who received 19,126 votes (46.33). Not counting absentee or affidavit ballots, a total of 41270 county residents (54 percent of registered voters in the county) participated in Tuesday’s election.
For Gerace it is the end of an era spanning an estimated 40 years. He joined the sheriff’s office as a deputy in 1979 and was first elected sheriff in a special election in 1994 to fill the final year of Sheriff John Bentley’s term, following his death. Gerace was reelected in six subsequent elections, serving a total of 25 years as the top law enforcement officer of the county.
In his concession speech Tuesday night, Gerace thanked his supporters and said he would do what he could to help Quattrone transition to new sheriff.
We worked very diligently but the voters of the county have spoken. That’s part of what it is to be sheriff – you are the only publicly elected law enforcement official in the country. It’s the ‘people’s lawman’ and the people have chosen somebody else,” Gerace said. “I’m going to walk out with my head high because I’ve done a lot for this county. I’ve dedicated my entire adult life to public service and I’m not going away… I’ll be doing whatever I can to help with the transition.”
Quattrone is a former lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office. He ran on a platform of improving intermunicipal cooperation between law enforcement agencies in the county, especially when it comes to investigating illegal drug activity. He was critical of the sheriff’s office under Gerace’s watch for not being able to unite local law enforcement, with there being two separate drug enforcement agencies (The SOuthern Tier Regional Drug Task Force and the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force) operating in the county. Gerace, meanwhile, had said the second agency started as a decision by officials in Jamestown and wasn’t based on a decision he had made. Quattrone also said he wanted to reduce spending in the county jail while also increasing morale for employees who work there.
“I’m overwhelmed by the support, the community support, the support from my family and friends, but really the voters of Chautauqua County were ready for a change — ready for a positive move forward, and I’m looking forward to working with the other police agencies cooperatively,” Quattrone is quoted as saying in his victory speech Tuesday night.